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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poison Ivy..
Written by Roberta Taylor, who starred in Eastenders and The Bill, the story is set in 1963 and has flashes forward to 1983.

The story is centred around a building in early 60s London which is home to various businesses. It is the coldest winter in years in London. There are 3 women who are the main characters in the story. All of them work in this building...
Published on 18 July 2009 by Candi Says

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intricately plotted
Three women, working at the same London company in the 1960's. One the 40 year old tea lady with a past; one a malevolent 30 year old typist; and one the innocent 16 year old filing clerk. Downstairs in the basement of the building is a printers where a young lad works who has a unique and ultimately disquieting, not to say tragic, relationship with each of the three;...
Published on 28 Feb. 2009 by Four Violets


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intricately plotted, 28 Feb. 2009
By 
Four Violets (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Three women, working at the same London company in the 1960's. One the 40 year old tea lady with a past; one a malevolent 30 year old typist; and one the innocent 16 year old filing clerk. Downstairs in the basement of the building is a printers where a young lad works who has a unique and ultimately disquieting, not to say tragic, relationship with each of the three; revelations about which gradually unfold as the novel switches back and forth between 1963 and 1983.

Some of the denouement I saw coming a long way off; but a few of the developments are startling although perhaps overly co-incidental.

There are wonderful flashes of originality and very nice period detail and build up of suspense; but although I read the book in four days I had to write down the names and history of several of the characters to refer to as I easily confused them. The last few chapters unfortunately seemed forced, flat and hurried; and several unanswered questions still hang in my mind, which are impossible to reveal without giving the plot away.

The book is definitely worth buying for the nostalgia evocation of the smog and cold of 1963, inky carbon paper in the typing pool, stilletos, Woodbine smoke on the top deck of the bus, Elvis, beatniks and ban the bomb. All the clues to unlock the mysteries and secrets from the past are there in the pages - but read carefully or you will miss them.

Roberta Taylor was an actress in both Eastenders and The Bill . Born in London in 1948, she has previously published a memoir, Too Many Mothers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poison Ivy.., 18 July 2009
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Candi Says (Aberdeen, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Written by Roberta Taylor, who starred in Eastenders and The Bill, the story is set in 1963 and has flashes forward to 1983.

The story is centred around a building in early 60s London which is home to various businesses. It is the coldest winter in years in London. There are 3 women who are the main characters in the story. All of them work in this building and all of them are unknowingly linked to the same man who also works there. We meet the Ivy of the title, a bitter woman who is a typist, Janet a young, awkward post girl of strict upbringing and Eileen, an older tea lady who lives with her parents and is hiding a secret. The young man who brings them all together is Arthur, a handsome jack the lad who works for the printers.

Over the chapters we get to know the characters until slowly everything builds to a dramatic ending.

The book is very descriptive of the surroundings and I found myself being drawn into 60s London at a time of bad weather, protest marches, young student beatniks and typing pool dramas.

In summary I enjoyed the book very much and it was an easy read but I did feel that it had a quick ending after a long build up. I found it slightly confusing in that the description on the book seemed to centre around Ivy and how she tried to uncover secrets from Arthur. However, it was as much about the other characters as it was about her and indeed they got as much book space as she did. I also wasn't quite clear what Ivy did in the end and wasn't sure about her 'Re-Invention'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold Winter, Cold Heart, 19 Mar. 2009
By 
Angel Delta (Southsea Hants) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Ivy Brown is a 30 year old spinster, small, ginger and plain - her large beaver lamb coat "made Ivy's little head look like a a Percy Dalton's peanut struggling to pass through the arse of a black Labrador." Ivy can't wait for her parents to die and she is lusting after Arthur, eight years her junior, with whom she has had several sexual trysts in the back of his works van.

But the advances of this unpleasant woman become unwelcome to Arthur and he has to get out of the relationship which pleases his sister, Eileen. Ivy suspects that 16 year old Janet, the repressed daughter of a Catholic family, is the focus of Arthur's attentions and she plots her revenge.

The narrative alternates between 1963 and 1983 as the origins and the consequences of the actions of Ivy, Eileen, Janet and their families unfold. There are dark secrets and dark actions.

This is London, 1963 at the end of one of the coldest winters on record. Roberta Taylor evokes the images of those days with deft prose and captures perfectly the repressions of the time and the gradual emergence of a new way of life from the austerity of the postwar years.

This is a dramatic and compelling novel and a thought provoking view of the consequences of lonliness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remember that dreadful winter?, 1 April 2009
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Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Reading this novel brought back memories of that really awful winter of 1963. The way there was snow or slush on the ground for months on end and how women spent much of their time worrying about the muddy splashes up the backs of their stockinged legs. Roberta Taylor has got the period details just right.

The story takes up a few brief weeks in the early part of 1963 with short sections set twenty years later. The plot revolves round Janet, Eileen and Ivy who all work in the same building and their relationship with Brian - Eileen's brother. To say anything more about the plot is to give it away so I'll stop there.

The writing is vivid and atmospheric and the dialogue believable. The characters come alive on the page and the setting is well realised. The only reason why I did not give the book five stars is that I felt there was perhaps too much 'plot' in a book of this length. I shall however look forward to reading the next book by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everybody Loves Brian, 1 Mar. 2009
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Foggy Tewsday - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Often with novels and sometimes with films, one of my main gripes is that the work under discussion is too long. Roberta Taylor's first novel, however, suffers from being too short to do proper justice to the intricate story that unfolds within its pages.

It would not be fair to potential readers to go into very much detail about the plot: this is one of those stories that has been pared down to such a degree that there isn't much room for generalities. But, at its basic level, the story follows three women, including the title character, who are smitten by the slightly roguish Brian. The bulk of the story takes place in London in the early part of 1963 - on the cusp of becoming swinging. The author superbly describes the time. The excruciatingly cold winter, the traditional sense of morality about to be pierced with familial bonds crumbling, and the workplace practices in the pre-computer age are all beautifully evoked.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this novel is too short to accommodate its story. This is apparent in the merry-go-round of brief chapters detailing the lead characters' lives. The overall story becomes fragmented as one fleeting chapter follows another with each character getting too little attention for the reader to get sufficiently close to them. Although the major part of the novel takes place in a relatively short period of time (locations and dates head each chapter), some of the characters' motivations seem spurious given the small amount that we already know about them.

This is a novel that would probably stand up to repeated reading. I'm sure there are several nuances and intricacies that I probably missed first time around. The author's descriptive prose is particularly striking. And some of the incidental characters give added colour to the proceedings. I particularly enjoyed the salacious Tony, an Italian newsagent whose accented version of laddish patter is nicely comic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too muddled, 11 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I quite enjoyed this book to begin with - it described a very realistic picture of life in London in the 60s, and I liked the nostalgia of remembering - which wasn't overdone (as such things often are).

But I soon got into a muddle with the number of characters and their various stories: some of the characters seemed too vaguely drawn, and some seemed utterly unreal. I ended up not caring much about any of them. The sixties were a time when women were often not treated well, and this is certainly the case with the rather depressing Ivy and her very one-sided relationship...

It was suggested on the cover that it read like a soap opera, and I'm inclined to agree - but it didn't work for me as a book. I would almost have needed to make notes to keep tabs on all the people and places and their stories. There are a number of secrets to unlock and the clues are cleverly scattered around the chapters - but maybe I'm a bit slow because I missed a lot of them and only `got' them in retrospect.

Maybe this book should have been longer - and then more depth could have gone into the plot and the characters. It felt too ambitious and therefore a bit flat. Towards the end, it also felt a bit rushed - which again, left me feeling that the author might have done better to write a longer book.

So, interesting from the nostalgia pint of view, but otherwise, not a book that really grabbed my attention.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivy Brown, 3 Aug. 2009
By 
Mr. B. W. Haynes "b & e haynes" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I enjoyed this novel by actress Roberta Taylor, which made me hope that she will find time to write more novels as well as continuing with her successful acting career.
The complex plot of this novel coupled with the fragmented style of writing produced a gripping read, made more enjoyable by the necessity to back track occasionally to make sure you understood what was actually happening.
I found the last chapter particularly poigniant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting ..., 26 Mar. 2009
By 
Crafty Marie "mariej30" (Cambs) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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There is no doubt that this book has been written by an accomplished author - the use of language is certainly descriptive even if it isn't really to my own taste. Be prepared for a liberal dose of crude and strong words.

Plot-wise it is just ok - not particularly exciting and you can already guess the ending from the very start of the book. So no surprises in store either.

Where I really felt disappointed was the characters who all came across as cold and shallow. Not truly three-dimensional and warm people like Mauve Binchy (one of my favourite authors) manages to create with ease. It simply wasn't the kind of book I like to curl up and read at the end of a long, hard day.

From the blurb about the book, I really thought I would enjoy it but sadly it just wasn't for me. I've still given it 3 stars because my opinion is not to say it's a bad book - just not something that personally appealed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sixties sojourn, 26 July 2009
By 
Jago Wells - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Not a great piece of literature but of enough interest to maintain curiosity to the final page. An easy read which would be ideal holiday or weekend fare.Ideal for whiling away wet mornings and long journeys.
Ivy Brown will not change your life but she does a fair job in recreating the cold winter of 63. Her warms baths will warm you up and her bedsit life will strike a chord for many. You will experience the overcrowding and poverty in working class London in the early 60's and feel the emotional jungle that came in train with the dawning of the permissive age.
The writer, Roberta Taylor...'Gina' of TV's 'The Bill' and 'Irene' of 'Eastenders' can certainly spin a plot every bit as elaborate as the aforementioned soaps ! Entertaining and a book that you will want to finish but not one that merits revisiting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bill of Style!, 18 Jun. 2009
By 
Jason Jesson "Jason J" (Yorkshire, United Kingdom.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I was so looking forward to reading this book by the respected actress Roberta Taylor, and my goodness, it dosen't dissapoint.

Written with style, it's of a certain era in focus, and ideal for one of those nights in with a large glass of wine, roaring fire, comfy blanket and a 'do not disturb' sign on the door!
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The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel
The Reinvention of Ivy Brown: A Novel by Roberta Taylor (Hardcover - 1 Mar. 2009)
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